Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rep. Jason Grill holds town hall meeting in Parkville

Article in SUN Newspapers

Rep. Grill holds town hall meeting

By Michael Westblade

Jason Grill, state representative for Missouri House District 32, held a town hall meeting at the Meetin’ House at Park University on July 16 to share the work of the Missouri Legislature from the past year and to obtain feedback and hear concerns from his constituents.

Grill went through what he called “the meat and potatoes” of the legislative session and spoke about the bills he thought were highlights, the bills he helped defeat and the bills he voted against.

Some of the legislative highlights for Grill were tax reform, illegal immigration reform, increasing tax incentives for development, mortgage fraud legislation, education opportunities for veterans, tax reciprocity, cyber stalking and cyber crimes legislation, and of course, a bill increasing the penalties for identity theft, which Grill sponsored.

Grill also said he voted against a minimum-wage decrease and public vouchers, which were both defeated, as well as voting against a law scaling back campaign finance reform, which passed and will become law Thursday, Aug. 28.

The most important issues for the next legislative session, Grill said, are health care reform, transportation and infrastructure.

Energy reform and higher education will also be priorities next session, as well as teacher salaries and economic development, he said.

After his review of the legislative session and announcing his plans for 2009, Grill opened the hall to questions.

Eric Burgrud, director of Park University’s International Center for Civic Engagement, asked if it was possible that the Kansas City earnings tax would be eliminated next year.

“I think there is a hard-core group that wants to get rid of it,” Grill said. “I don’t think it’s on the front burner, but it will come up.”

Another audience member asked if the legislature will be considering not just new roadways, but also multimodal transport.

“With public transit, I think the writing is on the wall,” said Grill. “Gas is at $4.09 a gallon and it’s going to go up. We have to make tough decisions now because we’ve waited too long. We have to invest more money in public transportation.”

Another audience member wondered, with Bombardier Aerospace deciding not to build an assembly plant here, if there was a way to become more competitive and attract big developments.

“When (Bombardier) sat down with us and told us about it, it sounded like we were a shoe-in,” said Grill. “But concessions were made in Canada that kept them there. I really thought we would get it and I was really unhappy. But at least we created a law so we could attract more business like that.”

Health care was also an important topic in peoples’ minds at the meeting with questions about what new health care legislation may come up next year and what legislation would come up for small businesses struggling to provide health care to their employees.

Grill said new health care legislation would depend on who wins new seats in upcoming election. Grill also said he would do anything he could to help small businesses, because they’re the driving force of the economy.

Grill, who just finished his first term as state representative for District 32, will run unopposed for his seat in November.

The town hall meeting was sponsored by Park University’s International Center for Civic Engagement.